Aureole

Carole Maso, Author Ecco Press $22 (214p) ISBN 978-0-88001-482-3
Showing affinities with Jeanette Winterson, whose last novel (Art and Lies) was also her most experimental, Maso's fifth book (after The American Woman in the Chinese Hat) is a lesbian, erotic fantasia so drunk with language games, impressionistic imagery and self-referential play as to be almost plotless. ""I want you in the liminal stage. In the in between place,"" announces one woman to her lover as they lie in bed in a Paris apartment in the first chapter, evoking the themes of desire and liminality that unite the chapters that follow. Blending fiction and verse, often set on the threshold of desire and its consummation, narrated in a trance-like voice marked by ellipses and kaleidoscopic imagery of oceanic objects, fruit and sexual couplings, each chapter showcases a different lesbian, bisexual or onanistic fantasy. ""Make Me Dazzle"" details the lusty romance of a female professor and a muscular woman athlete who meet at a seaside town in winter; ""Dreaming Steven Lighthouse Keeper"" depicts the sticky daydreams of a disconsolate man tending a lighthouse; in ""Exquisite Hour,"" a woman injecting heroin watches her life flash past in a snow-shrouded haze. Maso's freewheeling prose-poetry and bawdy cataloguing technique suggest a lesbian updating of Walt Whitman's ""Song of Myself."" Yet her best lines--those that manage to make language itself corporeal, performative and sexy--are submerged in a stream of arch non sequiturs: ""Let us wash together our rosy lentils. In the dusk. In the dark. We'll live on oysters there, and sea snails."" In some readers this book will evoke the erotic, free-associative thought that occurs as one drifts off to sleep--in others it will induce it firsthand. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
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